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It’s more than just Andrea Mitchell and Wawa

I may come from the Sheetz part of the state rather than the Wawa side, but I think we can all agree that Andrea Mitchell is a hack.

Via blogger “Sooper Mexican“, Andrea Mitchell’s deceptively edited video:

… and the whole video:

 

And while I think it’s great that we caught Andrea Mitchell red handed, I do wonder how many swing voters actually understand how biased many “reporters” are.  This is a story that all the plugged-in political junkies on the right now know by heart, but did your mom see this?  Your uncle Bob?

Nope.  They watch the network news and read the morning paper.  They probably didn’t know what Fast & Furious was until a few days ago… and maybe they still really don’t.

We find it absurd that large numbers of marginally engaged voters reportedly get their “news” from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, but in the case of Fast & Furious, Daily Show watchers are actually more informed than most network news viewers.

June 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm Comments (2)

Avalon’s Fiery Regulation Outlawing Gas Grills—And Its Selective Enforcement

What is the biggest threat to our security?

 

1)      Al-Qaida

2)      Illegal immigration

3)      Joe Biden’s mouth

4)      Gas grills on decks

 

Gas grills, naturally.

 

In an act that can only be described as prescient, Avalon, New Jersey burned its competition by being one of the first to protect its citizens from the menacing grill crisis.

 

It outlawed propane grills on decks.

 

No joke, as the Borough Council ordinance reads:

 

“Propane gas grills are not permitted on any deck, under any building overhang, or within five feet of exterior wall. (Natural gas, charcoal, and electric [grills] are allowed).”

 

Avalon beachgoers should feel privileged, as that regulation undoubtedly keeps them safe from the greatest pandemic we face as a nation: the destructive force of exploding gas grills.  How grave is the threat? The National Fire Protection Association claims that “more than 6,100 accidental fires and explosions occur [each year] due to the improper use of grills.”  A conservative estimate is that 60 percent of America’s 114 million households own gas grills (that’s 69 million gas-grillin’Yanks). So the accident rate is a whopping — wait, we need a bigger calculator — 8.84 x 10-5, or, in layman’s terms, .009 percent.

 

So let’s get this straight. We’re passing laws to protect the .009 percent of the idiot population who can’t use a gas grill properly?

 

Interestingly, it’s a law that only applies to renters — not homeowners. So therefore, is it safe to say that all renters are morons and homeowners grill-savvy? Or is it to prevent renters from lugging their 100 pound grills on vacation with them? (Doesn’t everybody do that?)  Or, as is likely the case, is it government intruding into where it does not belong?

 

If a homeowner wants to allow a renter to grill, that should be his prerogative.  If not, then lock up the grill.  And if, Lord forbid, there is an unfortunate event, that’s why God made homeowners’ insurance. But government should not be needlessly interfering in the private affairs of citizens.

 

What makes the situation so explosive is how such laws are selectively enforced. Should a house be subject to a noise complaint, the police, upon noticing a grill on the deck, can order its removal and levy a fine — with no action taken against every other house on the block sporting a deck grill. The end result of such blatant favoritism is disdain for the law and the agents who enforce it.

 

While it would be nice to think that such a law is an isolated intrusion on our freedoms, that’s not the case.  Ego-driven government officials seem to be the norm, deliberately placing laws on the books that can shut a business down or make one’s life pure hell for virtually any reason. Consider:

 

-Ordinance 7:2-5.10 prohibits the alteration or repair of any building on any Sunday in the summer. While vacationers surely desire peace and quiet, should government have the right to tell a homeowner that he cannot work on his home?  Many houses are rental properties that must be up to code in order to be put on the market.  Since most of their owners work during the week, the only time they can make necessary repairs are on the weekends.  But in Avalon’s view, if you can’t make it down the shore on Saturday, you’re out of luck.

 

A cynic might think that policy smacks of collusion between the local government and shore contractors.

 

And naturally, there is an exception for —you guessed it— Avalon itself, as the ordinance does “not apply to limited projects of the Borough of Avalon.”  Nothing like being above the law.

 

But it doesn’t stop there.

 

-An Avalon homeowner passed up an opportunity to have a new garage built for free.  His existing garage was adjoined to his neighbor’s, who was razing both his house and garage to build new structures. The builder calculated that it was more cost-efficient to level both garages rather than dismantle just one.

 

So why pass on such a lucrative offer?  Because his washer and dryer are in the garage, and if he were to demolish the building, he would not be permitted to reinstall them (they are grandfathered).  Why is Avalon telling a homeowner—and yes, a taxpayer— what he can and can’t do in his own garage?  It isn’t to prevent a “bungalow” situation, since that arrangement is already outlawed in the zoning laws. So what then, other than to simply maintain the ability to penalize an individual or business at will?

 

We may have won the Cold War, but too many government officials have since forgotten what we were fighting to protect: freedom from governmental tyranny.

 

*****

 

One of the greatest threats to America is the overabundance of regulations governing every aspect of our lives, and worse, the selective enforcement of those laws.  Too many have been conditioned to just accept the “inevitable,” because, after all, many of those laws “aren’t really enforced.”

 

But then why have them on the books at all?

 

While reasonable discretion can and should be applied to each individual case, selective enforcement opens the door to an oppressive government — a door that rarely closes.

 

And it has pitted citizens against each other.

 

Don’t like your neighbor? No problem. Just rat him out. With thousands of obscure laws on the books, he’ll always be guilty of something. The ultimate irony is that when a society pits people against each another, utilizing an endless web of laws, it becomes a lawless nation.

 

The way to maintain stability is to enforce laws uniformly and without prejudice.  If Avalon chooses to keep a law as stupid as prohibiting grills on decks, then it should enforce it across the board, no exceptions.  But no one should ever get cited just because a neighbor wants to “get him.”

 

Ronald Reagan once stated, “Whenever…

 

Read the rest at Delaware County Daily Times:

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/06/20/opinion/doc4fe1c18d44789066128527.txt

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 20, 2012 at 9:29 am Comments (0)

Republicans Throw up Roadblocks to Property Tax Reform – Where is the Outrage?

I talked to a friend of mine earlier this evening, and he asked me the question in the title of this post. Why did Republicans vote against reforming property taxes by tabling HB 1776, and where is the outrage?

HB 1776 would eliminate school property taxes and the earned income tax and replace them with a 1% increase in the state sales tax. More items would also be included in the sales tax as well, but a lot of clothing and food would still maintain their exemptions. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s supported by a vast number of Pennsylvanians because they know they could finally stop renting their homes from the school district. It has over 60 co-sponsors in the House, both Democrat and Republican, and has a companion bill in the Senate. There are coalitions behind it from all over the state.

On June 11, House Republicans voted to table the bill in committee. It won’t even come to the floor for a vote.

The roll call vote for the committee is below. A “no” vote is a vote not to table the bill, and a “yes” vote is a vote for property owners in Pennsylvania to go screw themselves.

Benninghoff, Kerry A. – Yes
Aument, Ryan P. – No
Bear, John C. – No
Boyd, Scott W. – No
Cox, Jim – No
Denlinger, Gordon – Yes
Dunbar, G. – Yes
Evankovich, Eli – Yes
Harris, C. A. – No
Keller, Fred – Yes
Milne, Duane – Yes
Peifer, Michael – Yes
Rapp, Kathy L. – Yes
Scavello, Mario M. – Yes

If there is some valid reason for tabling the bill, I would love to hear it. Absent that, all I can say is that we have the largest Republican majority in the House in 50 years, and we still can’t get this done because of the reflexive need for Republicans to cave anytime someone whines in their general direction. If I were you, I would call each and every “no” voter and thank them for doing the right thing. Then I’d call every “yes” voter and ask them what the hell is wrong with them (links have been helpfully provided). While you’re at it, call Eli Evankovich twice since he’s the one who offered the motion to table the bill.

You might also want to send the “yes” voters a video of Scott Walker’s victory speech from last week so they can see what someone with a spine looks like.

June 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm Comments (8)

Spain And Italy Bailouts? Earth To Europe: Have We Met?

Pop Quiz:

 

Are the Euro-technocrats (and their America backers) who orchestrated the bailouts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain (and soon Italy):

 

A) Hell-bent on world domination by propping up the Euro to create a one-world currency (to complement a one-world government, of course);

 

B) Closely connected to the banks and governments receiving the billions being doled out so cavalierly — and who are undoubtedly being “taken care of” for their services;

 

C) Good-hearted souls who truly believe that there is no such thing as perfect men, just perfect intentions — leaders who hold that the “more-debt-solves-everything” economic philosophy, while not perfect, is the only salvation for a continent near collapse;

 

D) Cowards who know damn well what they’re doing won’t work, but are kicking the can down the road (again) so that the implosion won’t happen on their watch; or

 

E) Just plain morons. And that’s not meant as a mean-spirited personal attack, but merely a point-of-fact description.

 

Answer:

 

All of the above.

 

The brain trust across the pond is trying to prop up the Euro or, more accurately, save it from extinction. But let’s be honest: since they can’t identify what their problems are, let alone how to solve them, anything beyond keeping their heads above water is wishful thinking.

 

Will people financially benefit from the bailouts? Absolutely. Any time incomprehensibly large amounts of money change hands, insiders make out like bandits (because often times they are). Some of that corruption is illegal (but difficult to prosecute since those at the top are often in on the deal), but there is also widespread institutional corruption, where many of these financial transactions are immoral, unethical, and “criminal,” just not illegal.

 

So while the corporate hacks and pols “get theirs,” the people get shafted. Why would anyone expect change, since there is no incentive to rock the boat? Those who stand up are often kicked out of the “club,” and the European march towards oblivion continues.

 

Are there some European leaders who believe that one bailout after another is the best policy to right the ship? Absolutely.  They live in a bubble of naiveté borne from never holding private sector jobs. To them, free enterprise is a hindrance, not a solution, so they cannot relate to the obstacles businesses must navigate to survive. And thus can’t understand why so many companies are shutting down.

 

They never had to meet a payroll, never dreaded issuing a pink slip, never worried about how to pay skyrocketing health insurance. They never had to compete while handicapped with needlessly high energy costs, and never cursed up a storm because of crushing taxes and ridiculous, job-killing regulations.  More important, they never experienced competition and all that striving to be the best brings out in people.

 

Bureaucrats thrive in a spread-the-wealth environment where mediocrity is the norm, and aspiring to greatness is ridiculed.  Sadly, they have never been imbued with the vision that complacency is the enemy, and that the constant drive to develop better products and services, and how to most innovatively bring them to market, is the only tide capable of lifting all boats.

 

Instead, they believe government solutions are the only answer.

 

The problem with bailouts is that there is no such thing as “government” money. In a democracy, it is always the people’s money, sent to the government with the reasonable expectation that it will be spent with restraint and wisdom. In Europe’s case, as in America, that train has jumped the tracks.

 

Instead, spending has increased so exponentially that entire nations are effectively bankrupt. “Government” money has been made so easily available to all people for all things that the sense of entitlement has wiped out any incentive to work harder and be more productive. Europe has become a continent of sloths, content to siesta and a take a lavish pension at 45.  That’s a whole lot easier than putting in the work necessary to make one’s life, and his children’s future, better.

 

Now it’s time to pay the piper. We no longer live in a world where problems will just work themselves out. Instead, they will be with us until people face the truth. But unless that hard look in the mirror occurs, Europe’s deterioration will only accelerate.

 

Nothing the Europeans are proposing will solve the problem, since they are simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. Spain is paralyzed by debt whose unemployment rate is 25 percent. Yet the “solution” is to take on even more debt! That’s like buying a $40,000 Ford with zero in the bank and claiming a “savings” of $60,000 because you didn’t get the $100,000 Mercedes. Earth to Europe: Have we met?

 

Like Greece, the bailout will change nothing in Spain.  The Spanish will riot rather than tolerate cuts in pensions and services. Leaders may discuss austerity measures, but will cave. And why not? They just suckered Europe (mostly Germany) and the United States into giving them $125 billion to do as they please. Instead of implementing reforms, it will be Business As Usual with Other People’s Money. Layoffs will continue, defaults will increase, and more companies will close because nothing will change.

 

But the good news for Spain is that soon it will be a distant memory as Italy, whose financial crisis is even larger, teeters on collapse.  All the money in the European Central Bank won’t be enough to save it, so the printing presses will keep cranking out worthless Euros.  And the madness continues.

 

Will the last one to leave Europe please turn out the lights?

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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June 13, 2012 at 9:31 am Comments (0)

Look for the Union Label on the Carton of Milk from 1987

It’s been a while since something in Pennsylvania has been screwed up enough to get front-paged by Drudge. As of today my wait is over. Apparently AFSCME employees in the Sharpsville School District went to the mat for the right to eat expired food.

The grievance was based on the allegation that the school district “violated established past practice” in charging cafeteria workers for food or drinks that couldn’t be sold or consumed by students. These items would include food or drinks with expired dates or foods that had been reheated, none of which can be served to students according to safe food regulations.

But according to the settlement, cafeteria employees indeed can eat and drink those expired or reheated items – at their own risk. And they don’t have to pay for them.

The items cannot be sold or given to any other party, the agreement says.

People. United. Will never be defeated. People. United. Will eat rotten meat.

Me? I blame Scott Walker’s reforms.

June 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm Comments (2)

New PA House and Senate Maps are out

Second time’s a charm.

Redistricting Commission Passes GOP Maps

The panel charged with redrawing state House and Senate maps passed its final plan Friday, voting 4-1 to in favor of those submitted by Republican members. It’s the second time the Legislative Reapportionment Commission sent a proposal to the PA Supreme Court for approval; its initial maps were rejected by the Court.

Short story–lots of changes, particularly in the Senate seats in Allegheny County. The House map didn’t change much from the original proposal. There is still a 30 day public comment period before the courts can formally approve them, so the story’s not entirely over.

Since the topic is redistricting, you know there has to be whining, bitching, and partisan hackery involved. Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) never disappoints:

“Democrats have a 1 million voter advantage, but this map would continue Republican dominance in the Senate.”

In other words, “Waaaaaah.”

Elections have consequences.

June 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm Comment (1)

A Victory for the Free Market in Pittsburgh

The State Legislature has finally ended the union monopoly on transit in Allegheny County.

Legislation eliminating the state-mandated monopoly on transit services in Allegheny County is on its way to the governor for signature, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) announced today.

The legislation, House Bill 10, will allow private companies or other regional transit systems to deliver transportation services in Allegheny County, while still allowing the Port Authority of Allegheny County to provide services. Under current state law, the Port Authority has the exclusive rights over transit within the county.

By allowing other transportation agencies to offer services, the people will be far better served, Turzai said. Eliminating the transit monopoly is a win-win for taxpayers and transit riders.

For those of you who haven’t been following it, the Port Authority in Allegheny County is way broke. Not just financially, although it is truly screwed up in that respect, but they can’t even provide adequate service when they know they need to. It is still one of the most expensive transit systems in the country, is overly unionized, and, in generally, has long outlived its usefulness.

Maybe now we’ll be able to get a bus that goes where we want to for a price we’re willing to pay.

June 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm Comment (1)

Use Your Brain — No Motorcycle Helmet Laws


 

No one ever accused the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board of using their “heads” when opining, and last week was no exception.

 

Like Big Brother that thinks it — not the individual — knows best, that “brain” trust is arguing that the State should mandate how motorcyclists protect their brains. In their editorial, they argue that “Keystone State motorists would be safer if Harrisburg followed Trenton’s example by strengthening enforcement of seat-belt use and restoring the mandate that all motorcyclists wear helmets.”

 

Ok, first the most obvious point: Snooki aside, emulating anything from New Jersey is simply insane.

 

Second, when will folks realize that regulating everything under the sun in the name of “what’s good for us” (such as soda bans in New York and foie gras in California) never achieves the desired result. Instead, such legislation only serves to h the loss of freedoms for all Americans.

 

*****

 

My wife’s step-brother was killed while riding his motorcycle.  He was an avid and highly experienced rider.

 

He also wasn’t wearing a helmet.

 

Standing in line at his viewing, I overheard people commenting that Pennsylvania should have a law mandating motorcycle helmets.  Such a law might prevent deaths and mitigate the injuries that plague motorcyclists, so that line of thinking goes.

 

The theory, of course, has merit.  Common sense tells us that wearing a helmet while riding on top of an engine, with virtually no protection, will provide at least some measure of safety for the brain in case of an accident.

 

However, just because a concept makes sense doesn’t mean that it should become law. Mandating helmets crosses the line because it is government intrusion on personal freedoms of the individual, since it has yet to be shown that a helmet-less rider is a threat to the physical well-being of any person other than himself.

 

It is interesting to note, however, that even with no mandatory helmet law, many motorcyclists still wear helmets — proof that people, entrusted to their own good sense, will make intelligent decisions.

 

In the same way, laws mandating seat belts for drivers are misguided.  How is an adult’s failure to wear a seat belt in any way affecting other people? It doesn’t, so why is it illegal?  Such laws only open the door to more intrusive regulations, and fuels the “government knows best” mentality. (Of course, common sense dictates that children under eighteen should be required to wear restraints because their lives are in the driver’s hands, and they do not understand the consequences of not using seat belts).

 

*****

 

Interestingly, many people state their philosophical opposition to the mandatory helmet law, yet support efforts to institute such a law.  Why?  Because riders not wearing helmets cause our auto and health insurance costs to go up.

 

This is a fallacy, not to mention a dangerous line of thinking.

 

The number of motorcycle accidents is minuscule compared to car crashes, since there are exponentially more automobiles on the road.  Therefore, the jump in insurance rates is an unfounded myth due to the statistical insignificance of motorcycle injuries. Beyond that—and this will seem quite callous— there is a strong case to be made that helmet-less riders actually save the health care system money because, in catastrophic accidents, such riders are more likely to die from their head injuries.  Health care costs for the deceased are, for obvious reasons, nonexistent, while long-term medical care and rehabilitation for the injured rider are substantial.

 

And a point often lost in the debate is that many experienced riders feel that helmets are virtually worthless in accidents over 35 miles per hour due to the tremendous forces exerted upon the motorcyclists.

 

If anything should be mandated, it’s appropriate auto insurance coverage for motorcyclists, including adequate personal liability and major medical amounts.  That is simply the cost of doing business when riding a motorcycle.

 

*****

 

The greatest danger America faces is not from outside invasion or terrorist attack. Rather, it is the loss of freedoms…

Read the rest and join the discussion in the Delaware County Daily Times:

 

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/06/05/opinion/doc4fce126e42c53676906068.txt

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         
 
 

 

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June 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm Comments (0)

Saving Foie Gras Takes “Guts!”

 If it talks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it must be….human?

Such is the quacky rationale of many activists as they hoot about animal-cruelty (including and especially all of us who callously continue our non-vegetarian ways), all the while grousing about “inhumane” treatment.

 

Perfect logic from Vegan Central.

 

Of course, they conveniently overlook that “inhumane,” by definition, can only apply to humans, and animals don’t have the same rights afforded people. Common sense tells us that outright animal cruelty, such as when Michael Vick ran a dog-fighting ring, is, and should be, against the law.  But doggone it, when we start listening to fanatics who want to outlaw everything related to consumption of animals, we become sheep being led to slaughter.

 

While these extremists may be irrational, they’re not dumb. They target areas with liberal populations, self-righteous legislatures, and city councils that think banning things is their paternalistic responsibility.   Nowhere have these folks been more effective than the People’s Republic of California, where for years restaurant patrons have been harassed for their love of certain delicacies.  The animal rights folks claim their mission is simply one of education, yet restaurant owners feel threatened and their customers intimidated.

 

And with good reason, because the fanatics have just scored a “whopper” of a victory as one of the all-time greats is set to be outlawed —statewide — on July 1.

 

So what was their “beef” this time? Liverwurst?  Tripe?  Nope.

 

Or was it Right Whale, whose extraordinarily tender meat tastes even better with the knowledge that there are only about 300 of these beasts left in the wild?

 

No, the big “flap” in the Golden State was regarding foie gras, which is French for “really, really good food”.  According to the non-carnivores, the methods employed in making the delicacy (which has been enjoyed since ancient times) are—yes, you guessed it— “inhumane.”  The duck (or goose, if you’re in France) is fed a constant diet so that it fattens up and its liver swells to several times its “normal” size.  The animals are then “put out to pasture,” being sent to finer culinary establishments so they can end up in our stomachs. (Kind of “winging” it here, but the fact that the duck’s liver lands so close to our livers really has a poetic, full-circle effect.)
So what’s the big deal?

 

If you look at the facts, not much.  If you buy into deliberate misinformation, a lot.

 

Like most everything, there is more than one way to skin a duck, so let’s look at the real picture.  Ducks have no gag reflex, so the “force-feeding” is not painful. Sure, it looks bad when you see the video of the feeding tube inserted into the throat, but I saw humans doing that all weekend at the Jersey Shore.  Interestingly, both were intaking grain-related products: cornmeal for the duckies, and grain spirits for the humans.  Neither seemed to mind.

 

Speaking of New Jersey, a fascinating point comes to mind.  Every spring, birds making one of the longest migrations on the planet stop on the shores of the Delaware Bay.  Why?  To gorge themselves on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. Since their journey originates at the southern tip of South America and ends near the Arctic, they need a tremendous amount of energy.  Unfortunately for the birds, there aren’t too many service plazas along the flyway.  Armed with this intuitive knowledge, our aviary friends eat before they start their trip.  A lot.  Ditto for the stopovers. 

 

Interestingly, something happens to these birds as they gorge themselves for the expedition.

 

Their livers swell to several times their “normal” size.

 

Given the “inhumane” nature of such an event, I hereby call on all horseshoe crabs to stop laying eggs on the beach.  It should also be illegal for birds to engage in any such feeding activity, and offenders should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Enforcement of this policy guarantees that the problem will be solved, and these migratory birds will never have to deal with large livers again.

 

They will all be dead from starvation.

 

*****

 

Let’s try looking for consistency from the “vegetarian outreach” side of the debate. (As an aside…

Read the rest at Philadelphia Magazine:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/05/31/chefs-foie-gras-menu-cowardly-cowards/

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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June 1, 2012 at 9:53 am Comments (0)